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How to integrate

You have to learn Dutch as part of your integration. You also have to learn about living and working in the Netherlands. The government says so in the Civic Integration Act. When you’ve learned enough, you take the integration exams.

You have 3 years to integrate. This is called the integration period. You have to pass the integration exams before the end of this period. If you have to integrate, DUO will send you a letter. The letter says when your integration period starts.

Did your integration period start after 1 January 2013? Or do you want to become a citizen? Then this website is for you.

Did your integration period start before 1 January 2013? Then you need to go to a different website.

Asylum migrants

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    Integration in the Netherlands is learning the Dutch language and learning about The Netherlands.

    First, you have applied for asylum at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service and you have registered at your municipality. Through the municipality you have received a citizen service number. You have received a letter from DUO that says you are obligated to integrate. It is your own responsibility and you have to arrange your integration yourself. Of course you can ask for help from a friend or a volunteer. You have 3 years to pass the  integration exam. So start on time with your integration.

    What do you have to do?

    First apply for a DigiD, that is a code that you need to arrange online affairs with the Dutch Government. After the application you will receive a letter with your DigiD-code. With your DigiD-code you can log in on My Integration, there you can arrange your integration yourself. The integration course costs money. At the website My Integration. You can apply to borrow money for the integration course. Through the link on the website inburgeren.nl you can find schools you can borrow money for. If you signed up for a school you can attend class. Through My integration you will find which exams you need to apply for. You can also sign up for the exams there.

    You are taking the exam.

    If you fail the exam you can try again. If you pass within three years you prevent a fine and you don’t have to pay back the borrowed money. If you pass the exam you will get a diploma from DUO.

Most people who integrate are asylum migrants. Some rules are different for asylum migrants.

Income does not affect loans

Asylum migrants can borrow money for the course and the exams. It does not matter how much they earn. More: How much money can you borrow?

Not paying back the loan

Asylum migrants do not need to repay the loan if they integrate in time. More: Repayment

School and learning

Foto school en leren

Going to school

You can follow an integration course in school. In the course you will learn Dutch. You will also learn about living and working in The Netherlands. When you’ve learned enough, you can take the integration exams. Going to school is much better than learning by yourself. You will have a better chance of passing the exams. DUO does not have books to study for the exams. DUO does have practice exams.

Choosing a school

Go to the Blik op Werk website to choose a school. This site has a list of good schools. Choosing a school from this list has these advantages:

  • You can only borrow money from DUO for a school on the list. You cannot borrow money from DUO for other schools.
  • If you do not integrate in time, you will be fined. The fine is lower if you followed an integration course in a school on the list.

Integration obligation

If you have to integrate, DUO will send you a letter. The letter says from what date you have to integrate. Your integration period starts on this date. It is important if your integration period starts before or after 1 January 2015. The letter also says that you have 3 years to integrate.

There are 2 ways to integrate. You can take the integration exams or the Dutch as a Second Language State Exam (staatsexamen NT2)

Integration exams

Integrate by taking the integration exams

  • Did your integration period start before 1 January 2015? Then you have to pass 5 integration exams.
  • Did your integration period start after 1 January 2015? Then you need to pass 6 exams.
  • Did your integration period start after 1 October 2017? Then you need to pass 7 exams.


Before 2015 From 2015 From October 2017
Reading Reading Reading
Listening Listening Listening
Writing Writing Writing
Speaking Speaking Speaking
Kennis Nederlandse Maatschappij (Knowledge of Dutch Society) Kennis Nederlandse Maatschappij (Knowledge of Dutch Society) Kennis Nederlandse Maatschappij (Knowledge of Dutch Society)
  Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market
    Participation statement

State exams NT2

Integrate by taking the Second Language State Exam (Staatsexamen NT2)

You can also integrate by taking the State exam for Dutch as a Second Language (staatsexamen NT2). You will learn Dutch on a higher level. You may need a NT2 diploma to enter a vocational training. Or a course in higher education. If you have a secondary or higher level education, you can also take the NT2 state exam. If you do, you will learn Dutch at a higher level.

Did your integration period start before 2015? If so, you only need to take the Dutch as a Second Language State Exam (staatsexamen NT2). Do you have the NT2 diploma? Then you are integrated.

Did your integration period start after 1 January 2015? If so, you have to take the Dutch as a Second Language State Exam (staatsexamen NT2) and 2 more exams. The extra exams are Knowledge of Dutch Society and Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market. If you pass these exams, you will receive both the NT2 diploma and the integration diploma.

If you pass the exam, you will receive 4 certificates. You need to exchange these certificates for a NT2 diploma. Exchanging your certificates will take some time. Please do so as soon as possible, or you may be fined.


Before 2015 From 2015
NT2 State exams NT2 State exams
Kennis Nederlandse Maatschappij (Knowledge of Dutch Society)
Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market

Do you want to know more about the Dutch as a Second Language State Exam (Staatsexamen NT2)? Visit the DUO website.

You can take practice exams for NT2 at staatsexamensnt2.nl.

Exemption

Wel of niet inburgeren

You have to integrate. But sometimes you do not have to take the exams. For example, if you have lived in the Netherlands for a long time. Or if you already have a Dutch diploma. Or if you can’t pass the integration exams.

Taking the exams

If you have to integrate, DUO will send you a letter. The letter says that you have to integrate. It also says how much time you have to integrate. This is called the integration period. You have to pass your integration exams before the end of this integration period.

Exemption from exams

Sometimes you don’t need to take any integration exams. Or you don’t have to take all exams. This is called an exemption. You have to apply for an exemption yourself.

Exemption for students

Do you already have a Dutch diploma? Or are you studying in the Netherlands? If so, you may get an exemption. This applies to high school students as well. Do you want an exemption? Then send DUO the form below. DUO will decide if you get an exemption.

Aanvraag vrijstelling van de inburgeringsplicht (opent in nieuw venster) (106Kb, pdf)

Exemption from the obligation to integrate

Sometimes you don’t have to integrate at all. There are 3 ways to receive a exemption from the obligation to integrate:

  1. You have tried hard enough to integrate. This is called proof of effort.
  2. You are already well integrated.
  3. You can’t integrate because of medical problems.

1. Proof of effort

There are 2 ways to receive an exemption because of proof of effort:

  • Have you taken an integration course? Then you must meet both of the following conditions:
    -You have followed at least 600 hours of an integration course. Only schools listed on the Blik op Werk website count.
    -You tried to pass the exams at least 4 times (at language level A2).
  • Have you taken a literacy course ? Then you must meet both of the following conditions:
    -You have followed at least 600 hours of a literacy course. Only schools listed on the Blik op Werk website count.
    -You have to show if you can read and write by taking a test. The test will take place at DUO. The test costs € 150. DUO will decide if you can take the test. If you want to take this test, please send DUO the form below.

Aanvraag ontheffing aantoonbaar geleverde inspanningen (opent in nieuw venster) (153Kb, pdf)

2. Proof of being well integrated

Maybe you are already well integrated. Have you lived only in The Netherlands for at least 10 years? And have you worked in The Netherlands for at least 5 years? And are you fluent in Dutch? If so, you may not need to take the integration exams. You may get an exemption. Send DUO the exemption form below. Also send DUO the employer statement. Make sure the employer statement is filled out at your workplace.

Before receiving an exemption, you need to have an appointment with DUO. This appointment costs € 90. After this meeting, DUO will decide if you get the exemption. Please find the application form and the employer statement below.

Aanvraag ontheffing van de inburgeringsplicht op grond van aantoonbaar voldoende ingeburgerd (111Kb, pdf)

Werkgeversverklaring in het kader van de Wet inburgering 2013 (opent in nieuw venster) (81Kb, pdf)

3. Exemption for medical reasons

Are you unable to pass the integration exams because you are very ill? Or because you have a handicap? Then you can ask for an exemption. If you get the exemption, you do not have to take the integration exams. Go to the Argonaut website for more information.

A doctor from Argonaut will examine you. You have to pay Argonaut for the examination. After that, the doctor will write you a letter. The letter says if you are able to integrate or not. You have to send the letter to DUO. Also send DUO the form below. DUO will decide if you get the exemption.

Aanvraag ontheffing om medische of psychische redenen (opent in nieuw venster) (103Kb, pdf)

Do you need more time?

You have 3 years to integrate. Do you need more time? Sometimes you can get extra time to integrate.

Too late, but you have tried hard enough

Are you trying hard to integrate? But are you unable to pass your exams in time? Then you may get 2 extra years to pass the integration exams. There are 2 conditions:

  • You must have completed at least 300 hours of an integration course at an approved school. The approved schools are listed on the Blik op Werk website.
  • You took the exams, but you failed at least twice.

Use the form below to ask for the extra time. Send DUO the form 6 months before the end of your integration period, or later. If you send DUO the form earlier, DUO will not take a decision.

Aanvraag verlenging inburgeringstermijn (opent in nieuw venster) (155Kb, pdf)

Illiterates

Illiterates are people who cannot read or write. They get a letter from DUO after finishing the literacy course. The letter says that they get 2 more years to integrate. Did an illiterate person finish the literacy course at least 8 weeks ago? And did they not receive the DUO letter? Or did they take the literacy course at a school that is not listed on the Blik op Werk website? Then they can ask for the extra 2 years themselves. Send DUO the form below.

Aanvraag verlenging inburgeringstermijn bij alfabetisering (opent in nieuw venster) (149Kb, pdf)

Illness

Are you unable to integrate in time because you were ill for more than 3 months? Or was your partner or child ill for more than 3 months? If so, you may get extra time to pass your integration exams. Please use the form below to ask for extral time.

Send DUO the form 6 months before the end of your integration period, or later. If you send DUO the form earlier, DUO will not take a decision.

Machtiging opvragen gezondheidsgegevens (opent in nieuw venster) (153Kb, pdf)

You had a baby

Are you unable to integrate in time because you are a woman and you had a baby? If so, you may get extra time to pass your integration exams. You can ask for extra time by sending us a letter. Please mention in the letter when your child was born. Also state your citizen service number, name, address and date of birth.

Send DUO the letter 6 months before the end of your integration period, or later. If you send DUO the letter earlier, DUO will not take a decision.

Not integrated in time

You had 3 years to integrate. Did you not integrate in time? Then you may be fined. If you are not an asylum migrant, it may also affect your residence permit.

A fine

If you did not try hard enough to integrate, you will get a letter from DUO. The letter says that you have to pay a fine. The fine is no more than € 1,250.-. You will also get 2 extra years to pass the integration exams.

Lower fine

Do you think the fine is not right, because DUO has not looked at all the facts? If so, send DUO all the information. Your fine may be lowered. Or maybe you don't have to pay the fine at all. Read below what you can do.

What can you do?

Did you receive a diploma in the Netherlands? If so, ask DUO for an exemption. Send DUO the form below. Include a copy of your diploma. Write the word "extension" on the copy.

Aanvraag vrijstelling van de inburgeringsplicht (opent in nieuw venster) (106Kb, pdf)

You went to an approved school

Have you taken an integration course? And is your school in the list on the Blik op Werk website? If so, send the form that you received with the letter from DUO. On the form it says "Declaration of participation in an integration course". Your school must fill out this form.

Illness

Were you unable to integrate in time because you were ill for more than 3 months? Or was your partner or child ill for more than 3 months? If so, you may get extra time to pass your integration exams. Please use the form below to ask for extra time.

Machtiging opvragen gezondheidsgegevens (opent in nieuw venster) (153Kb, pdf)

You had a baby

Were you unable to integrate in time because you are a woman and you had a baby? If so, you may get extra time to pass your integration exams. You can ask for extra time by sending us a letter. Please mention in the letter when your child was born. Also state your citizen service number, name, address and date of birth.

Other reasons

Is there some other reason you could not integrate in time? For example, because you were in prison? Then you can ask for an interview with DUO. Send the form you received with the letter from DUO. The interview will take place by phone. During the phone call, you can explain why you were unable to integrate in time. On the form, we call the phone call a "hearing" ("hoorzitting").

Personal responsibility

Hulp zoeken

You are responsible for your own integration. But you can ask someone to help you.

Who can help you?

Do you want help with your integration? Maybe your family can help. Or a friend. Or someone at your school.

Authorize

DUO does not give information about you to others. Do you want someone else to contact DUO on your behalf? Then you first need to give them permission to act in your place. Please fill out the form below and send it to DUO.

Machtiging (opent in nieuw venster) (104Kb, pdf)